Monday, August 24, 2009

Running in Illinois

Some scenery from this mornings run, just outside Chicago:

Please note the lack of sidewalks in the picture at right, and the piteously small shoulder (mostly gravel). (Is it any wonder that we saw so much roadkill this morning?)

I think I'll try to stick to the golf-course path tomorrow morning...

all photos courtesy of Eaglewood Resort & Spa

Resolutions - Week 4

Blogging from Chicago this week - my second round of travels.

I did went pretty well with last week's resolutions. My new running shoes were a great motivation to run every day, I managed to get plenty of sleep, all of which no doubt contributed greatly to my ability to get and stay organized.

This week, I'm staying at one of those places, you know the kind - where every meal is an all-you-can-eat affair, complete with dessert bar. Yes, even at breakfast. It's disgusting, really. I'm also stuck in a conference room with about thirty 23-24 year-olds, on my feet teaching from 8:00 to 6:30 each day, which leaves very little time and even less energy for evening runs. Oh - and did I mention the alcohol? Yeah, there is A LOT of drinking going on here. Recipe for disaster? Anyone?
Here are my resolutions for the week:

1. Run every morning
2. Drink slowly
3. No sweets

Now, I know that the concept of "no sweets" sounds a bit extreme, but I am just not one of those people who can eat two bites of a dessert and leave it at that. The only way I stand a chance in the war against the dessert buffet is to concede defeat before I even step foot in the dining room and just stay far, far away.

As far as drinking slowly - owing, most likely to my German heritage, I am what you could call a "gulper". I drink fast. Really really fast. While in college, this was a very cool talent, as a semi-responsible adult, this is quickly proving to be one of my downfalls. So, in an effort of compromise, I am going to limit myself to 1-2 drinks, and see just how slowly I can drag out drinking them.

Hopefully this will prove to be a skill I can master - because once all this travelling comes to an end, and I'm back to footing my own bar tabs, I have a feeling my wallet will thank me!

Friday, August 21, 2009

On bread

When A moved in last year, our place inherited relatively few of his personal belongings. Since he was renting his place furnished, all he brought with him was an enormous television, his clothes, and a few other sundry items.

A year later, I realized that one of these "sundry items" was a Williams Sonoma bread machine. Which has just been sitting in our storage closet collecting dust.

Last week, I dragged it out from its hiding storage place, and made bread. And boy, was it ever GOOD! Mind you, it is a 3 1/2 hour process, but other than the 2 minutes it takes to measure the ingredients into the machine, it is a really passive 3 1/2 hour process.

I love knowing that every ingredient going into this bread is healthy, but, I was curious - is it healthier? Is it cheaper? Really, is it worth the 3 1/2 hours or should we just keep buying our Sara Lee?

So I did what I do best, and I crunched some numbers. Here is what I came up with:

  • Flour costs $4.25 for a 5 lb bag. 5 lbs = 20 C
  • Olive oil costs $6.99 for a 500 ml bottle. 500 ml = 33.3 T
  • Honey costs $3.00 for a 12 oz bottle. 12 oz = 1.5 C
  • 1 packet yeast costs $0.25
  • Water and salt costs are negligible


  • A 1.5 lb loaf of bread costs me $1.86 to make (or, $0.078 per oz.)
  • The Sara Lee Delightful 100% Whole Wheat bread we usually buy costs $4.29 per 20 oz loaf (or, $0.215 per oz.)
  • We usually go through about 1 loaf of bread per week.
  • Therefore, I'm saving $2.43 per week, or, about $126 per year.

Hmm. I guess it's not much, but now lets look at the nutrition profiles:

Home-made nutrition facts, per 2 oz slice: Calories:152, Fat: 2.6g, Protein: 4.5g, Carb: 29.5g, Fiber: 4g.

Store-bought nutrition facts, per 2 oz: Calories: 113, Fat: 1.25g, Protein: 7.5g, Carb: 22.5g, Fiber: 6.3g

So, Sara Lee, with all her preservatives and additives has managed to make a seemingly healthier (albeit pricier) loaf of bread than me and my new A's bread machine. My last bit of research came from here. A quick scan of the ingredient listing didn't reveal anything too disturbing, though there were quite a few unpronounceables.

All the same, Sara Lee doesn't fill my home with the delicious smell of bread baking, and with the $126 I'm saving every year, I can afford to go buy another pair of new running shoes!

If you'd like to make your own bread too, here is the recipe I've been using:

For a 1 1/2 lb. loaf

1 1/4 C water
2 T olive oil
1/4 C honey
3 1/4 C 100% Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 T salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (or 1 package)

Put all of the ingredients into the bread pan in the order listed. Program for whole wheat bread, and press Start.

*Edited to add: Unfortunately, I'm not sure about cycle times - since I just throw everything into the bread machine, it would be a guess at best. The whole cycle takes 3:30, the bread dough rises 3x, and it bakes for somewhere between 50-60 minutes...

And for those of you who have recently asked me, "what are you doing with all your free time, now that you're out of school" or "how has getting an MBA changed you" or some variant along these lines, I'd refer you to the analysis above.

MBA = analytical dork. Yep, that's me.

Baja who?

I was hungry today (like I am most days.) But today was a particularly bad day to be hungry, at least in my kitchen. Correction, in my empty kitchen. (What with all the travelling going on in our household these days, it really hasn't made sense to grocery shop, and, I missed this week's farmer's market...)

I contemplated going out - but what was I in the mood for? Nothing sounded tempting, and really, why waste the money? I have a pantry stocked with staples, surely, SURELY, I resolved, I could cobble something together.

So I took inventory and threw together these:

Homemade whole wheat tortillas

Suprisingly easy, I would bet any one with a kitchen probably has all the ingredients you need to whip a couple up right now:

1/4 C 100% whole wheat flour
1/8 t baking powder
pinch of salt
1 t olive oil (scant)
1 T warm water

Combine dry ingredients, mix in olive oil, slowly add water until dough forms a ball. Knead thoroughly. Let dough rest 15 minutes. Divide into two small balls, roll out on a floured surface until paper thin. Cook in an ungreased skillet over medium heat, 30 seconds each side, until slightly puffy.

I topped mine with this for a variation on huevos rancheros (minus the salsa - sadly, I had no tomatoes on hand):

Nutrition Facts per 2 tortillas: Calories:142, Fat:5g, Protein:4g, Carbohydrate:22g, Fiber:3.5g

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dear Mother Nature

First off, thank you for making the Southern California great outdoors so beautiful. I really appreciate that.

However, I have a bone to pick with you. Perhaps you need a new calendar, or have been really busy at work lately, or just aren't that in to me, whatever.

But, as a friendly reminder, it is still August. And while I am really glad that we're not suffering through a heat wave, umm, it is just a little bit COLD!

We rode our bikes to dinner tonight and it was bone chilling, teeth chaterring cold on the ride home. (I am currently writing this letter to you from under a warm blanket on my couch, with my Ugg boots on, while sipping a cup of hot tea.)

Come on! It is August for crying out loud, not November!

So, if you could spare a couple minutes tomorrow to work something out, I'd really appreciate, maybe seeing the sun for a couple hours during the day, and you know, something besides fog and mist in the evening.

Thanks in advance for your help.

At long last

Today, I replaced these nasty beasts:

With these!!!

(Aren't they pretty?)

The guy at FrontRunnners chuckled at me when I complained that the shoes he suggested didn't come in more 'girly' colors. Call me crazy, but I would like my feet to both feel AND look nice when I am running. (Yeah, so no thanks on the all black running shoes - who am I, MJ? Notsomuch...)

I've already put the new shoes to good use - a nice hour long run tonight. Bliss!

I've spoiled my feet in more ways than one today. However, the other is (erm, well) slightly more embarassing. I got these cute new work shoes over the weekend:

photo courtesy of Easy Spirit

Yes. So as the photo credits clearly indicate, I am now 93 years old, and buy my shoes at Easy Spirit. From a shoe salesman named Herb. No joke - the Westside's modern day equivalent of Al Bundy. He was SO nice though, and the shoes are comfy...I'm officially old.

(I would like to state for the record, these shoes are in the "Style Watch" category on the ES website, so, while I may be old - at least I am kicky! I've still got the styles, oh yea.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wine country

Although my last post was totally devoid of pictures, I couldn’t leave you without something pretty to look at. A few snapshots from our venue scouting trip to Santa Maria and Santa Ynez wine country this weekend.

left side: Tres Hermanas Winery, right side: Firestone Estate

Resolutions - Week 3

I realize this is a bit late, considering it’s already nearly hump-day, but, a busy weekend (scouting wedding venues, hosting a wonderful house-guest and celebrating a very important birthday) didn’t leave me with much time for reflection or for planning.

I did passably (at best) on last weeks’ resolutions, but still returned from the trip feeling unhealthy (which led to feeling cranky…) and haven’t made a much better start to this week.

So, without further ado, my resolutions – hopefully, these will get me feeling a bit better and lift me out of this current funk:

1. Run every day
2. Sleep 8 hours every night
3. Get organized

Unfortunately, I’m just not one of those people who can function on less than 8 hours of sleep a night. I get cranky and I’m too tired to run, which makes me even MORE cranky (is anyone else sensing a theme this week?) and then I just start feeling generally run down and unwell.

I also don’t deal well with chaos and given the really fun (but not very restful or productive) weekend we had, I felt ill-equipped to start my week yesterday, which has left me feeling a lot like I’m playing catch-up. And that is definitely not very fun.

Nothing that can’t be fixed with a bit more routine this week (and a bit less TRAVEL…)

Ironic side note: I am actually typing this post from yet another airplane. I flew to Portland today, in case anyone was wondering, for a meeting that the client did not even show up to, apparently, he was still in Germany, and no one bothered to mention this to us. Thanks.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


No words of mine can pay appropriate tribute to hers, so this will be short.

If you don't read NieNie, you should start now. Set aside several hours, pull up a comfy chair, a beverage and snack (or two), and prepare to be captivated by a story better than any book could ever hold.

I couldn't be more proud of the strength and courage this beautiful woman exemplifies. Nie, you are an inspiration to me every day.

Happy anniversary.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Objects of desire

Living out of a suitcase for a week REALLY makes me crave beautiful new work clothes. In case the wardrobe fairy is reading, I wouldn't complain if any or all of the following appeared under my pillow tonight...:

All images courtesy of J Crew

Wouldn't this put you in a good mood too?

Greetings from Michigan!

I had to share some of the beautiful scenery from my run this morning.

Doing well on the running resolution so far this week, the weather has been perfect for early morning running, and with a view like this it's really easy to drag myself out of bed.

The whole healthy eating thing...well, lets just say these are not so easy to resist...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Resolutions - Week 2

I realize I'm a little late, but after reggae-fest last night, well, let's just say I wasn't in any shape to be posting...

1. Eat healthy
2. Run every day (except Monday)
3. 2's the limit

I'm normally a fairly healthy person. Don't get me wrong, I indulge myself, but I balance those splurges with loads of physical activity. This week, however, I'm travelling for work. And these are the types of trips that completely throw a wrench into all good intentions. (You know the type - every meal eaten out, dinners with fancy wine, appetizers AND dessert, late nights out that leave no time for running.)

This is the first of FOUR week-long trips in the next FIVE weeks. Yeah, I'm not thrilled about it either. But if I have any chance in hell hopes of making it through this next month with my health somewhat in tact, I'm gonna have to make some serious efforts to travel healthier.

Thus - my resolutions.

While I have limited control over WHERE we eat, I can definately control WHAT I eat (and how much of it). I even packed healthy Kashi cereals and Balance bars to keep me on track.

Not much I could do today - 8 hours of travelling + 8 hours of work really leaves nothing for the treadmill, but starting bright and early tomorrow morning, I'll be out there logging some miles.

And, only 2 glasses of wine with dinner. It's enough. I have a tendency to want to take all the free (good quality) wine I can get - that's the economist in me, but really, I'm not doing myself any favors with this one.

Will report back mid-week, hopefully I'll do just a smidge better on this week's resolutions!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Weekend Update

Here's a recap of the weekend so far:
Slumber party in the living room watching back-to-back episodes of this.
Made these in lieu of the usual cookies:

Zucchini chocolate chip muffins - yum

And this in lieu of the usual pizza.
Road trip to Temecula for a visit with A's parents, wine tasting, and wedding venue scouting:

Ponte Family Estate, Temecula, CA

And all the fun things to come:

Morning bike ride
Mid-afternoon house-hunting trip
Eating sandwiches from here while watching this concert here:

Hollywood Bowl

Hope you're all having fun too!

Week one recap

Running - 5/6
No equal - 4/6
Pick up - 6/6

I learned some things this week:

1. It is a lot easier to keep things orderly by doing a little bit at a time. And those little bits really aren't that hard.

2. Some things just taste better a little sweeter (coffee, Greek yogurt, breakfast cereal...) but don't need to be anywhere near as sweet as I made them.

3. Running everyday makes me happy, and running in the morning puts me in a better mood for the whole day. It might not be practical to run EVERY morning, but on those days that I can, it's definitely worth dragging myself out of bed to run. Especially if I get to run at the beach :)

P.S. In case anyone wondered, I'm still treating myself to new running shoes - one more lesson learned this week - you really can't put too many miles on your shoes. My feet are none too pleased with me right now.

Week 2 resolutions to come tonight.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Does (some variation on) this shot look familiar to anyone with a grandmother? photo courtesy of Cooking Light

My Nana used to pare fruit like this ALL the time. Holding the object of dissection in one hand, making quick work of peeling, chopping, dicing. She was so fast, her steady knife skills most likely owing to her years working in the local cannery, but I never understood - why not just get out a cutting board?

Enter today's revelation. My recent cooking frenzy, coupled with this week's Resolution #3 left me with a happily humming dishwasher at lunch today (all cutting boards inside...) What to do?

I took a page from my grandmother and pared a peach, just like she would have - and finally, AT LAST! I understand - paring with just your hands saves you from washing ANOTHER cutting board.

I'm converted. I used my newly found skills to make this:


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Resolutions - mid week update

Despite a new heel injury, so far:

Running: 2/3
No equal: 2/3
Picking up: 3/3

Who would have thought the thing I'd be best at is picking up after myself? I'm in awe.

(P.S. - coffee without equal really isn't worth it.)


For the past couple weeks, I've been so inspired by the 'food-porn' lovely pictures I've been seeing on food (and regular) blogs across the web.

Tomorrow night, we're heading to the Santa Monica pier with a group of friends for the weekly free concert. In honor of our gathering, I decided to put this inspiration to good use and make some snacks to share.

Here's what I've been up to today:

Photo and recipe credits (clockwise) 1. Tzatziki 2. Beet dip 3. White bean dip 4. Meyer Lemon pizza.

Everything (except the pizza) is making it to the picnic tomorrow night, and tastes SO yummy. Thank you to all for sharing not only your inspiration and beautiful photos, but the recipes!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Resolutions - Week 1

Here they are:

1. Run every morning
2. No equal
3. Pick up

So what does that all mean?

Well, if you hadn't guessed from the title of my blog, I am an avid runner. Here's the thing though - I run at night. I've always wanted to be one of those people who run in the morning, but I let myself think that I'm not a "morning person". A month ago, I made a goal - one that I actually attained - to run every single day. I LOVED it. And then I stopped. Why? Still not sure. But I miss it, hence the resolution. (This goal comes with an incentive too - if I run every morning, I'm letting myself buy new running shoes -ahem- see 'longing for' in sidebar.)

I'm also totally addicted to equal and splenda. I don't feel sooooo bad about this one, but, I'm sure it's probably not good for me. And, I regret that I don't let myself taste foods for what they are. This one will actually be REALLY hard for me, but I'm going cold turkey and NO ADDED SWEETENER (which by default is going to mean no diet soda...ow.)

Finally, our house is generally clean. Not spic'n'span, somewhat lived in, you could say. However, I usually let it get pretty messy and then power-clean it back to habitable (especially the kitchen.) So, instead of waiting for the mess to pile up and overwhelm me, I'm going to pick up after myself. Every dish I use, I'll wash right away. Every load of laundry will be put away immediately. You get the picture.

So there they are, my resolutions for this week.

I'll be running here in the morning:

palisades park, ocean avenue, santa monica

what did YOU do today?

I went here:

On this:

With them:

Loads of fun ensued (as did sore bottoms...)

New Week's resolutions

Is it just me, or did magazine editor's of the world unite last month, in an attempt to dupe the general public into believing it's January all over again?

No less than 3 magazines I've read in the last month have featured change inspiring titles like:

"Make a Change! Create the life you want" (Body + Soul, June 2009)
"Get the life you want" (Self, August 2009)
"Toss Your Type - uncover the real you" (Body + Soul, August 2009)

Whatever it is, it's working, or at least it's working on gullible me.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't have the life I want or dislike my "type" per se, it's just that, well, like most people I have goals. Goals I set back in, oh, January of 2007 and have still somehow not managed to attain. Or I'll read a post on one of the blogs I follow and think, "gee, I wish I could do that/was in that habit/didn't eat that" and I'd like to try some of this on for size. Non-comittally of course, and a week seems like a nice, sustainable period.

So, armed with an arsenal of motivational articles and an impending wedding, (i.e. the ultimate motivator for change - back me up here married/engaged ladies) I am embarking on what I hope will become my first weekly series!

New Week's resolutions:
3 things I want to do differently, just for a week. I might develop a new habit or two, or even just re-commit to some of my old habits, try a completely new activity, make a lifestyle change, who knows?! Sometimes my resolutions might not change from week to week (forgive me, but as mentioned above, I don't always do the best job of executing on things I've planned...)

I'll be posting resolutions Sunday evenings - starting tonight, and I'll check in with a status update towards the end of the week. Maybe if I have to be accountable to the blog, I'll actually FINISH something I start ;)